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Saving Tomorrow Today

28 November - 9 December 2011


Media Release - 02 November 2011


"Durban is increasingly being acknowledged as a global leader in the environmental field and more specifically in the area of climate protection planning. COP17-CMP7 (COP17) provides a critical opportunity for the city to demonstrate its environmental approach through the COP17-CMP 7 Greening Programme, which aims to minimise the environmental impact of the event," says Dr Debra Roberts, Deputy Head of the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department (EPCPD).

Key principles that have been incorporated into the Greening Programme include:

  • A thorough approach to calculating impacts and selecting relevant measures to minimise these;
  • Build on past experience – Durban has built on the event greening experience of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World CupTM to expand and improve the way in which the city undertakes event greening programmes;
  • Promote efficient resource use;
  • Focus on biodiversity and ecosystems – the city's biodiversity provides a wealth of ecosystem goods and services for Durban residents, including helping the city to adapt to climate change. The COP17 Greening Programme will consider the impact that events have on these natural resources and also on how these systems can be restored in order to increase the adaptive capacity of the city to climate change;
  • Create opportunities for social upliftment and advancement of the green economy;
  • Legacy value – an underlying premise in the design of the greening programme is that projects must have life beyond COP17-CMP7 and that their initiation will help to advance the environmental and climate change agenda of the city.

The key focus areas of the Durban COP17-CMP7 Greening Programme are:

1. Ensuring a carbon-neutral event

Through signing the UNFCCC Host Country agreement, South Africa has committed to mitigating event related carbon emissions. For Durban, this is more than just meeting an obligation, it is an opportunity to support and profile climate adaptation and mitigation projects that contribute meaningfully towards a transition towards less vulnerable and more resilient communities, ecosystems and economies.

1.1 Calculating the local carbon footprint for COP17-CMP7

As part of the city's preparations for COP17, Durban is responsible for calculating the local carbon footprint of the event and then finding ways to minimise the footprint and, where necessary, to offset this through appropriate means. Durban has adopted a particularly thorough approach to this, and has appointed an experienced team to calculate the local carbon footprint of COP17-CMP7. The team have worked to calculate a 'firstpass' estimate ahead of COP17-CMP7, and will then be required to complete a full disclosure report based on actual data collected during the event.

The first-pass estimate of the local (Durban) carbon footprint has been generated on the basis of information collected from various sources, and on assumptions that could be formed around numbers of delegates attending, how they would move about the city and how long they would stay in Durban. Based on the information that could be obtained, and on reasonable assumptions, it has been estimated that the carbon footprint for this event could be in the order of 15,000 t CO2 equivalent. This includes estimated emissions that will be generated as a result of the following COP17/CMP7 event related activities:

  • Electricity, LPG and water usage at the ICC / DEC complex
  • Electricity, LPG and water usage at delegate accommodation
  • Electricity, LPG and water usage at venues where other events associated with COP17 will be held (e.g. the Durban Green Festival along the Durban Beachfront)
  • Transportation of waste from the above venues to landfill sites and recycling centres
  • Transport of equipment to and from event venues
  • Transport of catering and virgin paper to the ICC/DEC complex
  • Intra-city transport used by delegates and visitors

Electricity, LPG and water usage at delegate accommodation makes up the greatest single contributor (61%) to the estimated event carbon footprint. Electricity, water and LPG usage at all event venues is the second largest contributor (23%), and intra-city transportation the third largest contributor (15%). This estimate will be verified and recalculated based on actual data collected during the COP17 event.

1.2 Durban's approach to minimising and offsetting the event's carbon footprint

In the hosting of COP17-CMP7, Durban has taken responsibility for minimising carbon emissions wherever possible and where not possible, to offset the remaining local footprint. A number of initiatives have been put in place to minimise the event's carbon footprint, including energy efficiency interventions at the ICC, the implementation of a Responsible Accommodation Campaign targeting all accommodation businesses in Durban, and the design of efficient public and non-motorised transport systems for delegates to use.

In terms of the offset strategy, eThekwini Municipality has already embarked on the development of its own climate offset project, the Durban Community Ecosystem Based Adaptation (CEBA) Initiative. The Durban CEBA Initiative is lead by the eThekwini Municipality and is being implemented in partnership with local communities, other spheres of government in South Africa, business and non-governmental agencies. The initiative has been developed in response to the need for vulnerable, impoverished communities in African cities to be active participants in the rapid transformation of their cities towards increased resilience and adaptive capacity to climate change. (see NOTES)

2. Raising the Footprinting Standard – Developing a methodology for ecological footprinting

While the carbon footprint of an event is obviously an important component, it does not take into consideration the impact of consumption of other natural resources such as water, food and energy that take place at events. Neither does it consider the ecosystem services that are needed to provide these such as water supply, energy production, food production and waste assimilation and dilution.

As part of the COP17 Greening Programme, eThekwini Municipality will develop and test a methodology for calculating event ecological footprints. It is hoped that the communication of this footprint will help to raise awareness of the full environmental impact of COP17, and will also be pioneered as a new tool within the context of the COP17 Greening Programme, that can be used in future events.

3. The ICC – A green venue

The ICC has a strong environmental vision and policy and already has a number of green features that will be profiled as part of the Greening Programme. The building, which recently obtained its ISO14001 certification, is a world-class, high-tech design which has incorporated green elements such as large glass facades for natural lighting, energy efficient light fittings and air conditioning systems and indigenous landscaping.

The ICC's gardens are populated predominantly with locally indigenous plant species, reducing the need for landscape irrigation. The ICC's water use profile is low for a building of its size, and it is currently rolling out upgrades to its ablutions which include sensor taps for hand washing. The ICC also has a stringent waste separation policy and has a strong emphasis on minimising waste at source. Key interventions have included reducing the supply of bottled water for events and functions, using biodegradeable packaging products, and minimizing the use of disposable catering equipment.

Ahead of COP17, the ICC and Durban Exhibition Centre buildings have recently undergone an energy efficiency retrofit, which includes the latest in lighting technology. This retrofit is anticipated to reduce the energy requirements of the complex by approximately 7% of the current total demand. Through a recent partnership project between the eThekwini Municipality, Philips Lighting Southern Africa, and Eskom, one hundred and fifty five (155) street lights in the ICC precinct have been retrofitted with energy efficient Iridium LED street lights. In addition, four of the major road intersections around the ICC have been fitted with solar traffic lighting.

4. Piloting a new approach: Green Accommodation for COP17-CMP7

As part of the COP17 Greening Programme, eThekwini Municipality identified the need to engage the private sector around the provision of "responsible" accommodation and meeting facilities.

A Responsible Accommodation Campaign has been piloted to promote the adoption of 'responsible tourism' approaches by the accommodation sector. This was done through a series of public forums. A 'toolkit' was provided to provide practical guidance for tourism businesses to start the process of adopting more responsible practices. In addition, a Responsible Visitors Charter was developed, which has been made available to accommodation facilities, and which will also be widely publicised to visitors over the COP17 period.

5. Efficient public transport for COP17-CMP7

Ensuring efficient public transport is a critical way of reducing carbon emissions related to the event. A number of public and non-motorised transport options will be available to COP17 delegates:

  • Airport shuttle – The shuttle will transport delegates from King Shaka International Airport to a number of central venues in and around the city (e.g. Gateway, Umhlanga Village, beachfront hotels and the central Transport Hub near the ICC).
  • Hotel Shuttle Service - Shuttle buses, exclusive to delegates, will provide transport connecting the hotels in key locations with the central Transport Hub near the COP17/CMP7 conference venue. A coach service will connect the outer areas during the morning and evening periods.
  • People Mover Buses – To be used for inner city transport linking the inner city with the beachfront.
  • Cycling routes - There will be a number of cycling routes along the beachfront for several kilometres, as well as to Moses Mabhida Stadium, the ICC, the Climate Change Response Expo, Botanic Gardens and the Yacht Mole at the Durban harbour. Delegates will be able to use bicycles free of charge from the Central Transport Hub, Addington Beach, North Beach and the Green Hub.
  • Walking routes – A number of colour-coded and numbered walking routes will be available, providing links between city attractions, the ICC and the beachfront.

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